For many, hosting holiday celebrations is a highlight of the year. Unfortunately, however, hosts of holiday parties may find themselves liable for losses and injuries which occur during the festivities. If you are hosting a holiday celebration this year, here are a few tips to help minimize the risk of liability and ensure the well-being of your guests.
Be Mindful of the Amount of Alcohol your Guests are Consuming
It goes without saying that holiday parties are often characterized by excessive alcohol consumption. If you are hosting a gathering where alcohol will be served, it is important that you take steps to ensure that your guests are drinking in a safe and responsible manner; failure to do so could potentially result in legal liability
In Childs v Desormeaux, the Supreme Court of Canada considered whether the hosts of a New Years party were liable for the losses sustained by the plaintiff- a third party who was injured when a party attendee, having consumed alcohol at the hosts’ party, was involved in a car accident while driving under the influence. Although the Court ultimately held that no duty of care existed in Childs, it did leave open the possibility of host liability under different facts.
Be Aware of Underage Drinking in Your Home
In the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Wardak v Froom, the defendants hosted a party for their 19-year-old son. Although they did not personally serve any party goers, they were aware that alcohol would be consumed at the party. The plaintiff was a minor who became intoxicated and proceeded to get into a motor-vehicle accident.
The Defendants in Wardak brought a motion for summary judgment and argued that the Supreme Court’s decision in Childs absolved them for any liability for the plaintiff’s injuries. This argument was rejected by the Court of Appeal, which noted that “Childs does not preclude finding a duty of care where there is a paternalistic relationship or where the injured party is a guest rather than a third-party”.
In light of the case law, it is apparent that, in some cases, hosts may be liable for injuries stemming from their guests’ alcohol consumption. As a result, it is crucial that holiday hosts ensure their guests consume alcohol in a safe and responsible manner, be aware of signs of intoxication, and taking measures to prevent intoxicated individuals from getting involved in situations where they may be at risk of harm.
Ensure that your Property is Safe for Guests
As we have discussed on this blog, in accordance with the Occupier’s Liability Act, property owners bear responsibility for the injuries of individuals hurt on or while accessing their property. Therefore, it is crucial that holiday hosts guarantee
their property is well-maintained before hosting a party or get-together. If you are hosting a holiday party, ensure your property is properly maintained, salted, and shoveled. Doing so will not only enhance safety, and thereby reduce your potential liability, but will also contribute to a welcoming atmosphere for your guests.
If you are hosting a holiday celebration this year, be mindful of the potential risks, and ensure that you take steps to mitigate any legal liability. In doing so, you will not only guard yourself from legal action, but will also create a safer and more enjoyable environment for you and your loved ones.
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